3 Dead 11 Missing In Methane Mine

Rescue workers have dug three bodies out of a coal mine in northern Mexico and scrambled to reach 11 other miners still missing after a suspected gas explosion caused a cave-in.

Minister for Labour Javier Lozano confirmed the deaths in a message on Twitter late Tuesday (local time), adding that he had spoken to the victims’ families and warning the death toll from the accident could rise.

“The prognosis is not encouraging,” he said.

Rescuers had been racing against the clock to dig out the miners after an explosion at 8:00am Tuesday left them trapped some 50 metres underground on the site in Coahuila state, near the US border.

The condition of the remaining 11 miners was unclear some 16 hours after the blast, according to state authorities, who had earlier confirmed that 14 were missing.

The state prosecutor’s office said a 14-year-old boy working outside the mine near the entrance was wounded in the explosion.

He was rushed to hospital, where both of his arms were amputated, it said in a statement.

Segismundo Doguin, a state civil protection official, said that the blast was apparently caused by methane gas and that the miners were trapped some 50 metres underground.

Anxious families had started to gather around the mine opening in the afternoon.

“The families are very desperate. We understand them, but it’s quite dangerous to enter the mine due to levels of methane present,” said Jesus Maria Montemayor, mayor of the nearby town of Sabinas.

The high levels of methane prevented rescuers from entering the mine for several hours, until six rescuers were able to descend in the afternoon.

Civil protection workers, miners and soldiers were working to try to locate the group trapped inside the mine, which is in the same area where 65 miners died in a similar accident in 2006.

Mexican president Felipe Calderon said he had ordered “everything in our power to be done to rescue” the miners.

“We will pray that they are alive,” he said during a visit to central Mexico.

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